Hickenlooper signs two pet bills, including response to police shootings of dogs

Posted on: 11:08 am, May 13, 2013, by and , updated on: 09:26pm, May 13, 2013

DENVER — Flanked by dog lovers and more than a few actual dogs, Gov. Hickenlooper began a day of bill signings Monday at the Denver Animal Shelter, putting pen to paper on two measures aimed at protecting and recognizing the importance of people’s pets.

Senate Bill 226, the “Dog Protection Act,” is a response to a rash of incidents where police officers have shot and killed people’s dogs when responding to calls.

The new law, the first of its kind in the country, will require local police and sheriff’s departments to provide canine behavioral training to help officers better discern when a dog actually presents a threat.

Sen. David Balmer, R-Centennial, the bill’s sponsor and the owner of three dogs, came up with the bill after seeing widely aired home video of a Commerce City officer shooting a lab-pit bull mix named Chloe after tasing it last November (the officer, who claimed the dog was a threat, was later charged with animal cruelty).

That case was one of some 30 such instances where dogs have been shot by Colorado police officers in the last five years.

The other measure, Senate Bill 201, designates shelter pets as the official state pet. Hickenlooper’s own dog, Sky, a fixture inside the administration’s offices at the Capitol, was adopted from a rescue shelter.